30px; border: solid 2px #333; color: #000; background-color: yellow; padding: 5px; width: 400px; z-index: 5; font-family: verdana, geneva, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: large;">
My blog has moved!You should be automatically redirected in 5 seconds. If not, visit redirectLink" href='http://blendz72.wordpress.com/'> http://blendz72.wordpress.com and update your bookmarks.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Dubai hit squad may have used diplomatic passports
James Hider, Jerusalem
From Times Online
The hit squad that killed a senior Hamas official in Dubai may have entered the country using diplomatic passports, senior officials in the Emirates said yesterday, calling on Britain and other European countries whose passports were forged to launch a full-scale inquiry.
“There is still information that Dubai police will not make public for the moment, especially regarding diplomatic passports” used by some of the 11-strong hit team, who used British, Irish, German and French documents to enter the emirate last month, said Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai’s police chief.
“The United Arab Emirates is deeply concerned by the fact that passports of close allies, whose nationals currently enjoy preferential visa waivers, were illegally used to commit this crime,” said Anwar Gargash, the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs.
Lt Gen Tamim said the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhuh, a founder of Hamas’ armed wing and whose death has been widely blamed on Israel’s spy agency Mossad, was “no longer a local issue, but a security issue for European countries.
His warning came after Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, hinted to Europe that while his militant organization – which has carried out scores of suicide bombings -- had restrained their operations to Israel in the past, complicity with Israel’s spy agency could change lead them to reconsider the policy.
Officials close to the investigation said that at least two more suspects had entered the country on Irish passports, and that some of them had made earlier scouting trips to Dubai.
It also emerged that the German passport used by the killers had not been forged but was a real document that had been obtained fraudulently from a German passport office in Cologne in 2008.
Der Spiegel magazine said it had been issued in the name of Michael Bodenheimer, an Israeli-American whose Jewish parents had fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
The passport was issued upon receipt of documents including Mr Bodenheimer’s grandparents’ passports. The real Michael Bodenheimer, who was born in the United States and now heads a religious school in Tel Aviv, told the magazine he had never applied for a German passport. The prosecutor’s office in Cologne has opened an investigation into the case.
In the latest twist in the complex affair, the Dubai police chief suggested that one of the slain Hamas leader’s own close associates may have leaked information on his whereabouts to his assassins, calling the unnamed mole “ the real killer.” Palestinian militant groups have often been infiltrated by Israeli intelligence in the past, and usually hand out death sentences to those caught collaborating with the Jewish state.
Hamas in turn said that al-Mabhuh, believed to have been responsible for smuggling Iranian arms to the Gaza-based militants, had committed several security breaches, including booking his ticket on the Internet and telling family members on the telephone of his movements.
“Al-Mabhuh called his family by phone before he travelled to Dubai and told them of his plan to stay in a specific hotel, and he booked his travel through the Internet. This undoubtedly created a security breach in the movements of al-Mabhuh,” said Salah Bardawil, a Hamas lawmaker.
Hamas was swift to reject Dubai’s call for the group to conduct a full internal investigation into whether one of its own people might have sold out al-Mabhuh, saying it had started its own inquires as soon as his death was discovered on January 20. Ayman Taha, a senior Hamas official, called on Dubai to form a joint investigative committee, something the emirate has so far refused.
“We have very important information which has not so far been used,” he said. “We asked the Dubai authorities to be part of the investigation, but until now there has not been a positive response.”
But the murdered militant’s own brother denied Hamas’ accusation that he might have compromised his own safety. “I am the last one who received a call from Mahmoud,” said Fayek al-Mabhuh. “He didn't tell me that he was going to Dubai and he never told any one of the family the details of his work or his movements.”
The accusations and counter-charges came after suspicion fell on Hamas’ Palestinian rivals Fatah, following the arrest by Dubai police of two former Fatah security officials from the Gaza for complicity in the hotel hit.